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Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies

ISSN No. 1948-1853

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change

Pierre Wilbert Orelus

Abstract: Whiteness has been socially constructed as the standard of beauty, purity, innocence, and safety. As a result, whiteness has taken the center stage of attention through positive lenses. In contrast, what is associated with blackness or brownness is often represented as ugly, negative, and even dangerous. Drawing on the work of activist scholars who have written about and challenged white privileges (Dei, 1996, 2009; Wise, 2011) and autobiographical narratives, this paper critically examines whiteness as a dominant ideology structurally privileging Whites over non-Whites. The author goes on to analyze the psychological and socio-economic effects of white dominance on People of Color. Finally, the author proposes that whiteness be de-centered for the construction of a more racially inclusive and equitable society.

Keywords: Education, whitecentricism, institutional racism, white privileges, colonialism, people of color, afro hair, internalized oppression

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 114

Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies


ISSN No. 1948-1853

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change

Pierre Wilbert Orelus

Introduction Whiteness has been socially constructed as the standard of beauty, purity, innocence, and safety. As a result, whiteness has taken the center stage of attention through positive lenses. In contrast, what is associated with blackness or brownness is often represented as ugly, negative, and even dangerous. Drawing on the work of activist scholars who have written about and challenged white privileges (Dei, 2009; Wise, 2011) and autobiographical narratives, I critically examine whiteness as a dominant ideology structurally privileging Whites over non-Whites. I, then, go on to analyze the psychological and socio-economic effects of white dominance on People of Color. Finally, I propose that whiteness be de-centered for the construction of a more racially inclusive and equitable society. Deconstructing Whiteness: An overview Despite that whiteness as an ideology is linked with the history of slavery, colonization, racism, and imperialism orchestrated by white European slave masters and colonizers and white imperialist invaders and occupiers (Jensen, 2005; Lopez, 2005), it

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 115

Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies


ISSN No. 1948-1853

has been represented as THE standard of beauty, purity, innocence, and safety (Wise, 2011). Consequently, whiteness has taken the center stage of attention through positive lenses. On the contrary, blackness and brownness have been negatively constructed (Bonilla-Silva, 2003, 2010). Whiteness, as symbolically and ideologically represented, is something to which people, including historically marginalized and racialized groups, have been made to believe they should aspire. I call this widely and historically sold dominant ideology and innocent image of whiteness Whitecentricism, which consists of a set of hegemonic, discriminatory, and misleading practices of unfairly judging other races by the mythological representation of the so-called superiority of whiteness. Because this mythology about whiteness has been widely circulated and sold in schools, the media, and other institutions, there has historically been an inclination from individual whites to be fiercely clung to a Whitecentric view of the world, however limited by those in power about such insight and understanding of other races and ethnicities. In other words, Whitecentric individuals tend to see the whole universe through their limited knowledge and understanding of other races and ethnicities. Convinced their white race is superior, they often look on and mistreat people of different races, ethnicities, and cultures, particularly those belonging to lower classes, speaking languages that have been looked down on. Whitecentric individuals have tried to impose their norms, manners, styles of living, Western values, and habits on people from different races, ethnicities, and

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 116

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cultures, as if theirs are better than others. In short, Whitecentric individuals have judged people by their own white standard widely sold as THE standard to look up to. The ideology informing Whitecentricism has been challenged by many scholars (Carr & Lund, 2007; Carr, 2007; Dei, 2009; Jensen, 2005; Leonardo, 2009; Kendall, 2012; McIntosh, 1992; Wise, 2011). However, the impact of such an ideology on peoples consciousness, attitude, and actions is so pervasive that a person might rightfully ask if the world is centered around whiteness. Many colonized and racially oppressed groups, as a result of internalized oppression, have unfortunately contributed to the hegemony and normalization of Whitecentricism by trying to look or act white (McNamara and O'Connor, 2006; Tyson, 2011). This is often expressed and translated in their actions and attitudes. A prime example is women of African descent who have used wigs to make their hair look longer and straighter (Dillard, 2012). In the minds of many of these women, their natural hair, often labeled afro hair, is not attractive enough and, therefore, has to be straightened to meet white standards, which hypothetically would enable them to fit into the white world. Research shows that millions of women of African descents have spent hundreds of dollars on hair extensions and on straightening their natural afro hair (Byrd & Tharps, 2001; Dillard, 2012; hooks, 1992a, 1992b; Stilson, 2009) to meet these standards. The few who have resisted this form of colonial mentality by maintaining their natural afro hair have been criticized and even ostracized by many black women, as well as black

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 117

Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies


ISSN No. 1948-1853

men (Dillard, 2012; Stilson, 2009). Rarely have we seen, in major Hollywood movies, black women with their natural afro hair. The hair of black female actors usually looks straight. Likewise, the hair of black female hostess of mainstream TV shows usually looks straight. Oprah Winfrews hair is a prime example. Her hair is represented as straight, in addition to the white, European attire that she often wears. The controversy around the 16-year-old African American, Gabby Douglas, is another case in point. Gabby was harshly criticized by many African Americans, particularly African American females, for keeping her afro hair natural while participating in the 2012 Olympics. Very few female African American singers have kept their hair natural as well. The majority have either used wigs to make their hair appear long like that of white peoples hair or they have straightened it to accomplish the same goal. Worse yet, many African American women in music have colored their hair blond, like the icon R&B singer, Beyonce. All of these superficial emulations have contributed to place and maintain whiteness at the center of attention, while pushing blackness and brownness to the margins. This is a colonial mentality that needs challenged and even eradicated. Both the Negritude movement and the Black Panther party tried to help people of African descent embrace, appreciate, and value black beauty through scholarly work, activism, and popular slogans, such as I am black, and I am proud. One of the prominent female figures of the Black Panther Party, Angela Davis, proudly kept her afro hair natural,

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 118

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ISSN No. 1948-1853

which has been an inspiration for many women of African descent (Dillard, 2012). Dillard states: By the mid-1970s, my hair was saying something else, itself singing the Black anthem of the times: Say it loud. I am black, and I am proud! Angela Davis had become my role model. Black had become my favorite color (even though my mother said that girls shouldnt wear that color: Pastels were so much more appropriate). So, while I couldnt wear the color black, I made up for it with Angela-wannabe hoop earrings that I bought with my own money from my retail sales job at the mall. And as the emerging sense of Black identity was coming into consciousness on my head, there was a little spark of Black consciousness rising inside me, too. (p. 31) Despite the legacy of both the Negritude Movement and the Black Panther Party as well as their influences on people of African descent, many young and older blacks have been brainwashed by colonial and white hegemony discourses circulated in the mainstream media and schools to emulate whiteness by relaxing their hair. Dillard (2012) shares this form of internalized oppression in her personal narrative: But by the end of the 1970s, times werent the only thing that changed. Chemically relaxed and permed hair, the kind that mimicked (often poorly) the Farrah Fawcett image on Charlies Angels was the prevailing

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 119

Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies


ISSN No. 1948-1853

hairdo. And given the naps that the Lord had blessed me with, I had to work very hard to emulate this style. And it wasnt just the hair that I was working to get: It was all the accoutrements of Whiteness that went with it. My wish? If I could say words the way they (White people)) say them. And while their language was never as alive in my ears as the Black speech was at home, that did not hamper my desire to acquire its proper cadence and sound. (p. 32) White peoples straight looking hair is not the only thing many black and brown people have tried to imitate. White skin, or something close to it, has been something many people of color, including Asians, have aspired to and, therefore, have tried to emulate. In their tireless effort to look white, many people of color have used special creams and soaps and chemical products, such as bleaches, to lighten their skin, whereas others have consciously married whites with the hope that their children will be hybrid (Bhabha, 2004) with lighter skin complexions. Products to lighten or whiten black or brown skin have been sold in many stores, particularly in beauty stores owned by people of African descent and Asians. On the packaging of these chemically based products, the images of fair skin or white people are overwhelmingly represented as a way to convince and attract black or brown people to purchase these products. In a Sunday New York Times article, Thomas Fuller (2006) talks about the wide spread skin-whitening products in Asia. Specifically, he argues that many

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 120

Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies


ISSN No. 1948-1853

Asians are determined to whiten their skin as a way to feel closer to be whites. Skin whitening has a long history in Asia, stemming from ancient China and Japan, where the saying one white covers up three ugliness was passed through the generations. According to Fuller, these women have used special creams and soaps to whiten their skin. He went on to argue that, for these Asian women, looking white would guarantee them a good paying job. Some institutions favor white-looking Asians in the hiring process. These women have whitened their skin to a point at which they have started developing skin problems. Fuller (2006) states: Whiter skin is being aggressively marketed across Asia, with vast selections of skin-whitening creams on supermarket and pharmacy shelves testament to an industry that has flourished over the past decade. In Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan, 4 of every 10 women use a whitening cream, a survey by Synovate, a market research company, found. The skin-whitening craze is not just for the face. It includes creams that whiten darker patches of skin in armpits and pink nipple lotions that bleach away brown pigment. (p.2) My Autobiographical Memories of Whiteness and White Privileges racial/cultural memories can be thought of as memories of events as cultural beings that are/were so remarkable that we consider them to be defining moments in our life histories Pertaining to the latter,

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 121

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race/cultural memories are those related to our cultural identities that are so potent [often painful] that we tend to suppress [them] in order to function as human beings. (Husband, 2007, p. 10) Our memories are based in a sense of connective and collective time, from which we both recognize our identities and from which we can also transform those identities. (Dilliard, 2012, p. 9) In this section, I use autoethnography as a medium of inquiry to reflect on my early memory of, and critically analyze through a postcolonial lens my experience with, whiteness and the privileges attached to it. Authoethnography is personal yet political, historical and social (Holman Jones, 2005). It is composed of research, writing, and methods that connect the autobiographical and personal to the cultural and social (Ellis, 2004, p. xix). Further, this form of self-reflexive inquiry allows one to challenge the negation of the unrecognized accounts of the postoconial subject (Lavia, 2006, p. 189). Finally, autoethnography enables postcolonial subjects and oppressed groups to bring to the forefront their often silenced and undocumented narratives and lived experience (Alexander, 2005). In light of these views, I draw on autoethnography to analyze critical moments that best reflect my lived experience as a colonized subject bearing witness to white dominance and privileges in a neolonized land, Haiti, and Latin American countries, namely Colombia and Venezuela.

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 122

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ISSN No. 1948-1853

Ou se yon blan gason [youre a white man]. This was the common sentence I grew up hearing. In the context of Haiti, when someone, particularly a black or a brown person, shows some level of generosity and kindness toward others, this person is automatically labeled a blan gason. The underlying meaning of this expression is that anything that is good is associated with being white. The reverse of this is that anything that is not good is attributed to being black. So, growing up, I believed whiteness was the standard to look up to, and I was brainwashed to internalize this as a child. How could I not believe this Whitecentric myth? Whites from the United States who came to my neighborhood as missionaries were venerated and treated as if they were far superior to anybody else. Witnessing the first-class treatment they were receiving in my neighborhood, I envied them and wanted to look like them, because, as a native, I did not receive such treatment. As a young boy, not yet able to understand the myth hidden behind whiteness and white skin privileges, I assumed people in my neighborhood were simply being hospitable to these white missionaries and visitors. I did not discover there was more to this than hospitality until I got older. The young adult Haitian males who were more or less advanced academically spent days practicing a song written in English and had high school students sing it to these white missionaries in a Christian church as a way to welcome them. Many Haitian women used creams to lighten their skin, apparently with the false hope that this would make them look more attractive to these white

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 123

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ISSN No. 1948-1853

missionaries. They prepared and cooked the finest Haitian dishes for them, while these missionaries were sleeping with their teenage daughters, nieces, and other young girls in the neighborhood. Worse, some Haitian parents knew their teenage daughters were being raped by the so-called white Christians, but they did not take any action to stop such criminal acts. It was revealed that many Haitian parents wished their daughters would get pregnant by white male missionaries, hoping this would bring a light skinned child into the family. Moreover, it was not a secret to the public that the same white Christian missionaries had forced a lot of young Haitian girls to abort their children while the missionaries continued to date more than one girl at the same time. Ironically, these men were still getting the same respect they received when they first invaded our neighborhood. Logistically, there was no castle or mansion built for them in this impoverished neighborhood, but the place they stayed had whatever they wanted: absolute respect, young girls, sexual gratification, fine Haitian food, and music. From what I observed, the behavior displayed, the actions taken, and the life style these white missionaries had in the island were no different from those of the French colonizers in Algeria, Congo, and Tunisia I learned about by exploring colonial and postcolonial literature, nor were they different from the Portuguese colonizers in Cape Verde and Mozambique; the British colonizers in Jamaica, Kenya, and Nigeria; or the Spaniards in South and Central America and Mexico during colonization.

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 124

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ISSN No. 1948-1853

These white men seized Haitian women from the Haitian men and enjoyed the finest food that many Haitians could not enjoy in their own land. In a word, they monopolized everything in the name of their whiteness and, before leaving our native land, they left the native people with a Bible, written by European white males, of which the content could not help these same people liberate themselves from mental slavery, white neo-colonial exploitation, the myth sealed in the white skin, and their miserable material conditions. Instead, with this Bible, the white missionaries simply taught us to pray, forgive, and love our enemies, but nothing about standing up to fight for our inalienable rights and to change our social and economic conditions. They taught us to keep hoping for a better life in heaven, whereas on earth we were starving and oppressed. From this painful experience with the white American evangelical missionaries, I concluded that the Bible did us no good but preached submissiveness and the art of ignorance to us. With regard to the fading cream noted previously, it is worth asking the following question: Who would have thought Haitians, descendants of Africans enslaved by the white French colonizers, would want to be closer in their skin tone to their colonizers after independence? Although many are aware and conscious of the negative effects of slavery on people of African descent, these same black and brown people have been brainwashed to believe they must mimic white people by lightening their skin to see themselves through a positive lens. This illustrates the extent to which the deep

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 125

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psychological effects slavery and colonization continue to have on people of African descent. Despite various forms of oppression the slaves suffered from white slave masters and colonizers, many house slaves wanted to imitate and be like their white oppressors. Similar forms of internalized oppression have occurred in the so-called post-colonial and post-slavery eras. For example, despite that white supremacist and racist groups have been oppressive to black and brown people, many still want to emulate these groups physically by relaxing their hair and lightening their skin, not to mention that many have had surgical operations to make their noses look like white peoples noses. This is a social and historical phenomenon many people have yet to fully understand. Personally, I am still puzzled by the manner in which black and brown people want to be closer to whites in physical appearance, as well as in attitude. I also witnessed the role white privileges played in the interaction between whites and people of color in Latin America. While traveling with some white American and European friends, I personally witnessed the undivided attention they received from people, particularly women. For example, during the month I spent sharing an apartment with a Norwegian friend in Cartagena, Colombia, I was saddened to witness how much attention my 41-year-old friend received from Colombian women and men. They treated him as if he were a king, while paying little attention to me. I was invisible in the eyes of many. For example, street vendors went straight to my friend, asking him to buy gifts,

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 126

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while ignoring me even though I was sitting next to him. Most of the local folks showed little interest in initiating conversation with me. However, my Norwegian friend felt overwhelmed by both male and female Colombians who wanted to hang out with him and show him places. Likewise, in Maracay, Venezuela, I experienced a similar level of invisibility from a 6-year-old girl, who can be easily labeled a black girl based on her skin complexion. While attending a family gathering with my wife and some friends, this girl, who was leaving, kissed everybody goodbye except me. I was sitting next to my white, American and Norwegian friends, and she jumped on and kissed all of them, but skipped me. When my wife, my mother-in-law, and her own parents, out of embarrassment, asked this girl why she did not kiss me, she replied saying, A mi no me gusta a los negros (I do not like black people). I was stunned to hear this black girl make such a statement. This experience once more made me realize that a persons blackness is on trial, regardless where that person happens to be, whereas a persons whiteness is often cherished and venerated. From the many forms of invisibility that I have witnessed many blacks, including myself, experience in the United States and in Latin America, I have concluded that, in the colonized mind of many people, including people of African descent, white skin seems to symbolize prestige, beauty, and purity, whereas black skin represents ugliness, shame, and impurityone of the consequences of the legacy of slavery and colonization.

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 127

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Beyond Whitecentricism Given the hegemonic influence of Whitecentricism, it is worth asking the following questions: Do black and brown people belong to the Western world, which has been so hostile to many of them? Where is their place in this world? Should they move back to Africa and join African brothers and sisters in their struggle against Western imperialism, neocolonialism, and political corruption in which many African political leaders and the national bourgeoisie have been involved? Or should they continue to live in the West and build alliances with other marginalized groups and white allies to fight against institutional racism and white supremacy? These are the questions that have preoccupied my mind and to which I have yet to find a clear answer. Going back to Africa is certainly an option, for this is the place where historically they originated. However, moving back to Africa might not be the most viable solution, given the dire socio-economic and political situations of the continent caused by both western imperialism and internal political corruption (Dei, 2011). Furthermore, moving to Africa is not realistic for the following reasons: (1) As much as black and brown people want to idealize Africa, the fact remains it is not a homogenous continent (Dei, 2011). There is a mosaic of cultures and histories shaping this continent that many black and brown people as well as white people living in the West might not fully understand (Dei, 2011). As Dei states,

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 128

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Africa is complex, nuanced, and heterogeneous. Such acknowledgement of difference is key to appreciating the many challenges that confront the continent. It brings to the fore the fact that one-size solution offered to Africas problems woefully lacks a depth of knowledge about the complexities of modern-day Africa. To begin to understand, teach, and learn about Africa, educators and students must understand Africa as more than a geographical space or territory. Africa is a place rich in culture and heritage, histories of struggles, successes, failures, and opportunities for moving ahead. (xix-xxi) And (2) the fact that black and brown people living in the West are, in fact, black or brown does not necessarily mean they will be welcome. In fact, because many have been residing in the West, including the United States, and have been formally educated in the West, Africans might see and treat them as strangers, despite their historical and cultural African roots. In the eyes of some Africans living in the continent all their lives, many black and brown people would simply be just Westerners with a black or brown face. Hence, the most realistic and practical option for many might be to continue to live in the West, which has become home to many. After all, to paraphrase Abdi (2005), Asante (2011), Cabral (1973), Dei (2011), Fanon (1963), and Said (1978), among others, what is called the Western world is essentially made of the exploited resources from the so-called third world. In other words, the West, as we know it today, was built and

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 129

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continues to be built on the backbones and blood of black and brown people who were enslaved and colonized, many of whom have been marginalized since (Dei, 2012; Orelus, 2007; Rodney, 1972). Through slavery and colonization, the West has enriched itself at the expense of black and brown peoples labor and misery. Since slavery, people of African descent, through voluntary and involuntary migration (Ogbu, 1997), have enriched the West with their labor and the various cultures they brought with them. Thus, it can be rightfully argued that black and brown people, regardless of their country of origin, nationality, culture, language, and religion, have the right to be in the West, despite its hostility to them. What would the West have become without the labor of black and brown people? This question is subject to public and institutional debate. But I argue the West would have been totally different. Previous generations of people of color vigorously fought so that present and future generations of black and brown people could more or less have a voice and retain the right to exist. Because of our contribution to the socio-economic advancement of the West, particularly in the Unites States, I argue that we belong here, despite many of us having constantly faced Whitecentricism along with institutional racism. This sense of belonging has given many black and brown people the strength to continue to fight for a better life not merely for themselves, but also for other racialized and marginalized groups (Dei, 2009). However, feeling that we rightfully belong to this land does not necessarily mean we are so nave to believe we will be treated the same as our white

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 130

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counterparts, especially those who are privileged. Being born black or brown has much to do with the kind of treatment many black and brown people have received in this white world. In most cases, it has been ill treatment. Nonetheless, this sense of belonging challenges many to fight against racial, economic, and social injustice so the West can feel and be livable to everyone, not merely to those who have benefited from their class, white privileges, and other forms of privileges. The journey of black and brown people in the Western world has been a long one, regardless of their social status as lawyers, university professors, or other highly regarded professionals. This is due to Whitecentricism, institutional racism, alongside the legacy of slavery and colonization. Although many have refused to allow themselves to be entrapped by this legacy, their daily experiences with racism and other forms of bigotry have made them cognizant of its harmful effects. It seems impossible to escape such legacy. In short, because of the history of slavery and colonization, the racial identity of black and brown people has become a marker and has, therefore, made them a target. By saying this, I do not suggest that black and brown people should be sealed in the past, but, by the same token, black and brown people cannot pretend they are exempt of institutional racism and other forms of oppression simply because slavery and colonization are supposedly over. Pretense cannot and will never allow them to live a dignified life, nor can it enable them to find strength in their inner self to continue to fight

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 131

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against the racial war that has been launched against many of them and other marginalized groups. Pretense can only permit people to live a life of denial and lies. Black and brown people should make an effort to transcend the history of colonization and slavery. However, However, this would require a lot of consistent effort because colonial stereotypes and prejudice continue to negatively impact them. Moreover, to rise above such a history, whiteness would need to be de-centered. That is, the political and socio-economic system that has historically placed whiteness at the center and has benefited whites, particularly elite whites, over people of color, needs restructured and reconfigured, so that everyone can inclusively have equal access to adequate resources to fulfill their potential, regardless of racial, ethnic, linguistic, and social backgrounds. Unless these sine qua non conditions are met, concepts, such as social justice, equity, democracy, diversity, and freedom, are nothing but empty rhetorics. In other words, the materialization and the application of these concepts entail, first and foremost, a profound shift in the Western racial, socioeconomic, and political paradigms that have been instituted to favor certain groups of people who, by virtue of their race and class, have monopolized the wealth of the world. It is high time that the wealth accumulation by those who have historically been privileged is not continued at the expense of those with brown, black, and dark skin, which elite groups have used as a pretext to brutally exploit them.

Whitecentricism Exposed: An anticolonial analysis for transformative educational and social change, Pierre Wilbert Orelus. JPCS Vol. 3, Nos. 3 & 4, 2012. www.jpcs.in 132

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Although slavery has been abolished for more 200 years ago, yet billions of people of African descent continue to suffer the most savage form of exploitation because of this sordid historical legacy maintained through white supremacy ideology and practices. Whitecentricism should not be challenged through physical attacks and aggressive violence, but rather through a complete transformation of the white ideological system that has been put in place to make Whites believe that they are superiors to people from different races, ethnicities, and cultures. Such a system is nothing but a decay system, which should not exist anymore. Conclusion People who have benefited from this system should re-examine their consciences as human beings. Someone with a heart, who is endowed with human compassion and respect for his or her fellow human beings, should not tolerate the injustice inflicted on people who happen to be from different races, ethnicities, and cultures. Those who remain silent while witnessing racial, economic, social, and linguistic injustice taking place in the name of Whitecentricism should feel ashamed of themselves. True human worth depends on the protection of the well-being of other fellow human beings. The problem, however, is that many racist individuals do not see black and brown people as human beings. In their racist minds, people of African descent are sub-humans, who only deserve to be treated like the wretched of the earth (Fanon, 1963). This white dominant

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ideology is at the root of many cruel actions taken by some whites against people of color. How can a person help this category of whites understand that the blood that runs through the veins of all human beings is the same color? Likewise, how can a person make white racist individuals understand that when a person dies, his or her own skin tone will not matter, but rather what that person leaves behind as a legacy? Moreover, how can a person help racist individuals or groups understand that hatred shown toward people of color can simply lead to inner war with themselves and, consequently, to their mental misery? Furthermore, how can a person make bigoted groups realize that race is a social construct used as a pretext to deny the humanity of certain groups? Finally, how can a person help racist groups understand that, at the end of the day, we are all human beings? Despite all forms of bigotry and hatred that many black and brown people have endured, it is hoped that Whitecentricism, along with institutionalized racism, will be eradicated and that, one by one, racist individuals will open their hearts and souls to people of different races. I believe we should all show love and compassion to others. Otherwise, sooner or later, the human tree that binds us all together will stop growing; it will wither because of our opaque hearts and souls that refuse to open themselves to respect and honor racial diversity and inclusivity.

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Works Cited Abdi, A. A. (2005). Reflections on the long struggle for inclusion: The experiences of peoples of African origin. In W. Tettey & P. Puplampu (Eds.), Negotiating identity and belonging: The African diaspora in Canada (pp. 49-59). Calgary, AB: University of Calgary Press. Alexander, B. (2005). Performance ethnography: The reenacting and inciting of culture. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp.411-442). Thouzand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Asante, M. (2011). The African American People: A global history. New York, NY: Routledge. Bhabha, H. (2004). The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge. Bonilla-Silva, E. (2003). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Bonilla-Silva, E. (2010). Anything but racism: How social scientists limit the significance of race. New York, NY: Routledge. Byrd, A. D. & Tharps, L. I. (2001). Hair story: Untangling the roots of Black hair in America. New York, NY: St. Martins Press.

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Carr, P. R. (2007). The Whiteness of educational policymaking. In P. R. Carr & D. E. Lund (Eds.) The great White north? Exploring Whiteness, privilege and identity in education (pp.223-233). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense. Dei, G. J. S. (1996). Anti-racist education: Theory and practice. Halifax, NS: Fernwood. Dei, G. J. S. (2009). Foreword. In P. R. Carr & D. E. Lund (Eds.), The great White north? Exploring Whiteness, privilege and identity in education (pp. vii-xii). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense. Dei, G. J. S. (2011). Teaching Africa: Towards a transgressive Pedagogy. New York: Springer. Dillard, C. (2012). Learning to (Re) member the things weve learned to forget: Endarkened feminisms, spiritualities, and the sacred nature of research and Teaching. New York, NY: Peter Lang. Ellis, C. (2004). The ethnography 1: A methodological novel about teaching and doing autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira. Fanon, F. (1963). The wretched of the earth. New York, NY: Grove Press. Fanon, F. (1967). Black skin, White masks. New York: Grove Press. Jensen, R. (2004). The heart of Whiteness: Confronting race, racism, and White privilege. San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books.

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Holman Jones, S. (2005). Autoethnography: Making the personal political. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp.411-442). Thouzand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. hooks, b. (1992a). Black looks: Race and representation. Boston, MA: South End Press. Husband, T. (2007). Always Black, always male: Race/cultural recollections and the qualitative researcher. Unpublished paper presented at the Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, May 3-6, University of Illinois, Champain-Urbana. Gillborn, D. (2005). Education as an act of White supremacy: Whiteness, critical race theory and education reform. Journal of Education Policy, 20 (4), 485505. Giroux, H. (2012). Disposable Youth: Racialized Memories, and the Culture of Cruelty. New York, NY: Routledge. Kendall, F. (2012). Understanding White Privilege: Creating Pathways to Authentic Relationships Across Race (2nd edition). New York: Routledge. Lavia, J. (2006). The practice of postcoloniality: A pedagogy of hope. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 14(3), 279-293. Leonardo, Z. (2009). Race, Whiteness, and education. New York, NY: Routledge. Lopez, A. (Ed). (2005). Post colonial Whiteness. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. McIntosh, P. (1992). White privilege and male privilege: A personal account to see correspondences through work in womens studies. In M. Anderson and P.H.

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Collins (Eds.), Race, class, and gender: An anthology (pp.7081). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. McNamara, H. and O'Connor, C. (2006). Beyond Acting White: Reframing the Debate on Black Student Achievement. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Ogbu, J. (1997). Variability in minority response to schooling: Nonimmigrants vs. Immigrants. In G. Spindler & L. Spindler (Eds.), Interpreting Ethnographic of Education at Home and Abroad. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Orelus, P. (2007). Education under Occupation: The heavy price of living in a neocolonized and globalized world. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense. Rodney, W. (1972). How Europe underdeveloped Africa. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press. Said, E. (1978). Orientalism. London: Penguin Press. Stilson, J. (Director). (2009). Good hair [Motion picture]. United States: Lionsgate. Stovall, D. (2006, September). Forging community in race and class: Critical race and the quest for social justice in education. Race, ethnicity, and education, 9(3), pp. 243259. Thiongo, N. (1986). Decolonizing the mind: The politics of language in African literature. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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Tyson, K. (2011). Integration Interrupted: Tracking, Black Students, and Acting White after Brown. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. Wise, T. (2011). White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son. Berkeley, CA: Soft Skull Press.

Biographical note Pierre Wilbert Orelus is an Assistant Professor in the Curriculum and Instruction department at New Mexico State University. He is the past Chair of the Post-colonial and Education Special Interest (SIG) Group at American Educational Research Association. Professor Orelus has received several awards and fellowships, including New Mexico State Dean of Education award for Excellence in Research. Professor Orelus research interests include post-colonial studies; critical race theory; language and gender studies. Dr. Orelus is the author of several books, including Education under Occupation (2007) and The Agony of Masculinity (2009). In praising Dr. Orelus book, The Agony of Masculinity, the acclaimed African American scholar Cornel West stated, Orelus is an intellectual freedom fighter whose deep insights and sharp analyses of institutional racism and black masculinity deserve our attention.

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